CUYAHOGA FALLS – For those searching their family history or the history of the town, the Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society may have the answers.
The Cuyahoga Falls Library recently closed its Local History room and a portion of the contents was delivered to the The Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society Museum at 2083 Cook Street.
Cuyahoga Falls Library Director Valerie Kocin said only about 38 people used the historical room in the past four years and 11 people last year because it was in a locked room. Some of the materials were scanned and digitized by Summit Memory Project to make it more accessible.
"We kept portions of the collection and moved it upstairs," Kocin said.
The remaining materials were donated to the Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society.
"We agreed that everything should be in one place," said Jeanne Harrington-Wunderle, vice-president of Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society. "It was a cooperative effort. They delivered the items to us."
The library's collection included books of the county census records, birth and death records, marriage licenses, the DAR family index, Cuyahoga Falls ordinances, atlases and maps.
One of the oldest books from the library collection was "German Weaver's Pattern Book" by Christian Morath and the library photocopied the book because it is so fragile.
The Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society is using a new archival system for its computers, and items can be looked up using keywords, but people have to come into the museum for access, she said.
"The staff will research items if people can't come here," Harrington-Wunderle said. "A lot of people out of town will ask for information."
Because of the limited space at the Cook Street site, the historical society cannot take large items and displays are rotated.
"Our only regret is that we wish we were in a more visible location," she said. "We're tucked back in here, but we have a permanent home. We own this place."
She credits the building becoming home to the Historical Society to lifetime resident and dance instructor Charles Boyd, who died in 2001 and wanted to donate his home at Stow Avenue and Third Street to the Historical Society.
The house was in bad shape and torn down after the city bought the property and auctioned off the furnishings, Harrington-Wunderle said. The proceeds were donated to the Cuyahoga Falls Historic Society, which it invested and used some of it to purchase the Cook Street building.
The Boyd Reading room contains one of his costumes, some of the ornate furniture from his home and personal items on display in cases he owned.
"We have fulfilled his wishes," she said. "He lived his entire life in Cuyahoga Falls with a dance studio on Second Street. Everyone took dance lessons from him. I think he would be very pleased how it worked out, and we're grateful to him."
In 1979 the steering committee founded the historical society and in 1986 they were given a room on the third floor of the Quirk Cultural Center. In 2007 the museum was moved into the building on Cook Street.
About 10 to 15 volunteers help out regularly and about 150 members belong to the society.
Marge Walker is co-curator and President Jeri Holland is a historian who updates the website www.cuyahogafallshistory.com with articles, meeting minutes, pictures and presentations. The site is linked to Facebook and Twitter to encourage discussions.
In 2019 the site will feature "first women" of Cuyahoga Falls with the first woman candidate for mayor, the first female golfer and first female professional baseball player Jane Jacobs who was portrayed as Kit in the movie "A League of Their Own."
Another project is using drawings by Minnie Prior of the old buildings along Main Street that no longer exist. They will be displayed on a museum wall with a map of the old downtown area with lines connecting the drawings to the map.
Family collections are important to the museum such as a book of old newspaper clippings that pertained to Cuyahoga Falls collected by Florence Metz and donated by Steve Searl of Peninsula.
Another family collection belonged to Byrdana Brown and her daughter Carol Whipple whose home on Broad Street was torn down to build the Cuyahoga Falls Library. The mantle from the home is on display at the museum.
Anyone can donate items during hours. They fill out a form listing who donated and what is being donated, and members of the society go through the collection. The items need to be related to Cuyahoga Falls.
"For those cleaning out attics or loved ones' belongings, think of the historical society first," Harrington-Wunderle said. "Don't throw out old items that may be important to the history of Cuyahoga Falls. If you're cleaning out mom's place, bring it over. We can decide if its important."
The museum is open Monday from 9 to noon and Saturday from 10 am. to noon, but people can call and make an appointment to view the antiques or do research.
They have about six programs a year at the library such as the recent one on Christmas Traditions done by the Summit County Historical Society. Some other topics have been the Silver Lake Amusement Park, the High Bridge Glens and Waterworks.
On Feb. 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. will be Kids Night with hands-on history for those 6 to 12 years old. March 13 will be Night at the Museum from 6:30 to 8 p.m. With videos and slides.
Programs at the Cuyahoga Falls Library can be found at its website www.cuyahogafallslibrary.org under the calendar.
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or email@example.com